The Secrets

What if we could speak the unspeakable, shameful secrets, just for one day?

What if we could say, I have come to hate my child, or I make my money illegally, or I like rough sex, or I am impotent or I am using heroin or I am a compulsive shoplifter or once, I hit my partner?

What would it be like if we could bare ourselves to one another, just for that one day? If that One Thing that inspires a cascade of shame could be spoken to another, without being judged? If we, as a society, had a culture of radical honesty on one particular day?

I have to believe it would be good for us, if the culture of that day were one of listening and accepting, of seeing the humanity beyond The Secret.

Maybe it would be a day we wore masks, to protect ourselves. Or even just wrote or posted the secrets in an anonymous place, so they can’t be used against us later. I don’t know; I like the idea of simple candor, but people are as they are and some are manipulative and unethical.

I have always been impressed by the PostSecret project. If you don’t know it, you should check it out. People are so desperate to tell their secrets without negative consequences.

We drag these dark secrets around with us, convinced they condemn us, when they are simply the facts of our humanity. Few of us are psychopaths who really don’t care–most are suffering unnecessarily by punishing themselves for doing what they needed to do, or what seemed like they needed to do, in the moment. And real psychopaths generally don’t feel badly about what they do.

This is such a bridge too far for the English-speaking world that I am not proposing that we do it. I just think it would be very healthy if we could.

Shame cripples our luminous nature. To be free of one’s secrets is truly to be free.

Ironically, this occurred to me as I was thinking about the satirical holiday Festivus, which originated on the Seinfeld television show and has taken on a life of its own. One of the “Festivus traditions” is “the airing of grievances”, and that got me to thinking about how great it would be if we could get things off our chests once each year.

Is there something you did that fills you with horror and shame? Find someone compassionate to share it with. In the telling, you will probably find that the burden is lightened.

And on the 23rd, happy Festivus!

This concept explored further here.

13 thoughts on “The Secrets

  1. This is great!

    I’m also very taken with Takanakuy, an annual established practice of fighting fellow community members held on 25 December, by the inhabitants of Chumbivilcas Province, near Cuzco in Peru. It’s basically the Fight Club version of Christmas, but people do it to lay grievances to rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried for several years to gain traction for the festival of Borrowed (because I don’t celebrate Lent, geddit?)

    Borrowed is a reminder that we don’t own planet Earth, we are only borrowing and should treat the planet with respect.

    So, what will your day of secrets be called? How about Unbuttoning?

    And when will it be?


    1. I like the name, but as I said in the piece, I don’t actually propose that we do this, because so many are vicious and opportunistic and would use the information to hurt people. It would be great, though, if we could.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the important bit is actually telling the secret to another person. And most people can see beyond masks. I can understand why the Catholics designed confessionals as they did–at least that creates an illusion of anonymity.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally see how it could become something that people would use to hurt others.

        I just feel like there should be some ritual about doing it. A special space where it happens, a form of words that can be used, and some form of closure at the end.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous

    A community could be invited to share their secrets on an anonymous online form, and then the community would gather together and each secret would be read aloud to the group. After each secret was read, the group could say together something like “I hear” or “I understand”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Secrets, Pt. II: Ritual and Observance – Atheopaganism

  5. Pingback: Notable and quotable 21 | Dowsing for Divinity

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